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Alone But Never Alone

CrossOver reflection for Week 44 • Beginning October 6, 2019
We Make the Road by Walking, Chapter 5

By Lonnie D. Brooks

In September of this year, 2019, I turned 79 years old. That’s precariously close to 80, which some consider to be the marker or when one becomes really old.

The milestone for me that really mattered, however, was the one I reached in 2012 when I turned 72. You see, my dad died when he was 72, and my mom followed him on that journey into eternity two years later when she was only 68.

So, starting in 2012, every day marked for me a day that I had lived longer than either of my parents, and that means that in a sense that was new for me, I was making the road by walking where nobody in my immediate family had gone. For seven years now, I’ve been making that road.

Whatever one chooses to believe about the historicity of stories like Cain and Abel, Noah and the Great Flood, or the Tower of Babel that form the core of Brian McClaren’s Chapter Five, what those stories have to tell us of the saga of humanity are incredibly valuable.

In each of these stories the principal figure, Cain, Noah, and those who migrated to the land of Shinar and embarked upon building their great tower, thought they were alone.

  • Cain had killed his brother Abel, and was cast out to fend for himself. But he found a wife and started a whole new line of the first family. 
  • Noah got on the boat with his own immediate family, and then watched the Great Flood kill every other human on earth. But he started a whole new human descendancy, and, according to the story, every human alive today has Noah as father. 
  • The people of Shinar, exercising the power of being united in purpose and voice launched themselves upon a God-like mission, only to see their unity end in a splintering of their voices and thus the end of their common mission. They were forced from then and forevermore to share the earth with others they could not understand and who could not understand them.

None of these characters were truly alone, and, of course, the same has been true for me despite the fact that parts of the journey have been uncharted. And the whole truth is that regardless of how many charts and maps have been made, there will always be a need for some of us to go where there are no maps. 

As Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”

Lonnie D. Brooks is a lifelong Methodist/United Methodist lay person who considers his most important work in the Church to be his teaching adult Sunday School classes in Bible and theology.  Following his graduation from Georgia Tech as an electrical engineer he spent a year at Perkins School of Theology on the way to spending a career of 32 years going around the world looking for oil and gas as an exploration geophysicist.  Brooks was the Lay Leader of the Alaska Conference for about ten years and has been to multiple General and jurisdictional conferences as either a delegate or reserve delegate.  He served on two of the Church’s general agencies’s board of directors.


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